21. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Belgium1

1461. Following based on uncleared memorandum conversation:2

Belgian Ambassador at his request called on Secretary February 4 convey Belgian Government reaction to US ideas on Congo. Scheyven expressed Belgian regret they not consulted ahead of others on Congo. Belgium did not believe that since UN powerless fulfill its present mandate, it could fill stronger role. Belgian Government thought it unfortunate US concept did not differentiate among different Congo regimes. They thought this would discourage Kasavubu. Scheyven repeated view it would be difficult replace Belgian technicians with other pro-Western elements. Finally he thought UN inability protect interests in event they responsible for Katanga too would lead Belgians to depart with resultant anarchy.

Secretary commented on certain aspects US ideas and said for instance we did not envisage release Lumumba until political situation stabilized. He thought UN required direct authority prevent outside aid to Gizenga.

Scheyven added Belgians pessimistic re US ideas because they envisaged sort UN trusteeship and also because they probably not acceptable to Soviets and many Afro-Asians. They did not think UN forces really [ready?] enter into combat which might occur. Belgians thought it would be preferable for UN form elite Congolese units for Kasavubu. Scheyven said good units existed in Katanga. He added Belgians opposed any idea of Foreign Legion. However he pointed UN not now really responsible for law and order. He said total Belgian officers and “policy-makers” now in Congo less than 300 and all there at request Congolese authorities. He agreed with Secretary that original Belgian idea of unitary state had failed and that federal solution required.

Scheyven went on saying Belgians thought Kasavubu-Tshombe agreement was prerequisite to political settlement. Belgians further realized Parliament should meet but thought perhaps it could convene merely to approve new government which should be formed. If we thought this course too risky, then perhaps new government could call round-table meeting or constitutional commission. In any event it was important Parliament not remain long in session since deputies hopelessly [Page 53] venal. Secretary noted SYG did not want Parliament in session until law and order reestablished. Scheyven added Belgians realized new government should contain some Stanleyville elements. Secretary dispelled Belgian misapprehension we desired “shadow” Congolese regime and said we rather thought of introducing UN administrative elements in order beef up Congolese Government.

Scheyven stressed heavily economic importance of Katanga and need to retain its assets. He feared that if status Katanga force changed by UN, all Whites would leave Katanga. Secretary said that UN and Congolese forces might jointly carry out preservation law and order. He also stressed that when US plan was spoken of, what we meant was a plan for consultation with our friends and allies. Secretary said US alone could not assume responsibility for Congo.

Secretary also made point Congo matter immediately urgent because of SC meeting and that was why it has not been feasible consult with Belgians in advance of others. He made point we did not envisage UN troops fighting Congolese forces to disarm them nor did we agree to disarming Mobutu forces ahead of Gizenga. Secretary said we too sought broader based government but believed such regime would still need UN administrative help which in turn could form political framework for presence many Belgians. In closing in response to question, Secretary said we had not discussed this with Soviets yet though we thought such consultation will be needed sometime.

At conclusion meeting, Scheyven said Wigny ready at any time come see Secretary here re Congo. Secretary said we would have to think this over.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/2–461. Secret. Drafted by McBride, cleared by Seip, and approved by Wallner. Repeated to USUN and Léopoldville.
  2. Drafted by McBride and dated February 4. (Ibid.)